Can a Fat Girl Get a Dress Please

Angry FrustratedFabulous actress Melissa McCarthy is interviewed in the July issue of Redbook. She discussed why she is starting her own fashion line:

When I go shopping, most of the time I’m disappointed. Two Oscars ago, I couldn’t find anybody to do a dress for me. I asked five or six designers—very high-level ones who make lots of dresses for people—and they all said no.

I have expressed my frustration before at the justifications that people use for why the selection of clothes for fat people is so limited and how they believe that doesn’t constitute fat stigma. They are, of course, allowed to believe that but I disagree and Melissa’s experience brings my disagreement into sharp relief.  These are designers who fight tooth and nail to get their dresses on actresses walking the red carpet at the Oscars. As long as those actresses aren’t fat, in which case they seem to have no interest in dressing them.  (I really wish Melissa McCarthy would have said who the designers were so that we could do some activism.)

As a fat woman I deal with the lack of clothing that fits me all the time.  As a fat athlete I deal with it on a whole other level when clothes for the activities in which I want to participate simply don’t exist in my size and have to be custom made.

Let me quickly tackle a couple of the common arguments I hear about this:

There’s nothing wrong with a designer having a target demographic!

Saying “we want to target our marketing” is not the same thing as saying “we want to make it impossible for all people who look a certain way to wear our clothing.”  You can have a target market that is based on the aesthetic that the customer is looking for (what the customer wants to buy), rather than the aesthetic of the customer (what the customer looks like).  So a store can make clothes in a wide variety of sizes and then market those clothes to people who are interested in a “preppy” look, or a “goth” look, more classic or more modern etc.

It’s not discrimination, it’s just a marketing decision, companies are allowed to decide what sizes to sell.

It’s a marketing decision to discriminate against everyone who shares a single physical characteristic. Some companies (like Lululemon and Abercrombie and Fitch) have taken this to the next level by using the fact that they don’t sell clothes for fat people as a selling point – suggesting that discriminating against fat people makes them more cool.  Marketing decisions do not happen in a vacuum and the phrase “marketing decision” is not a get-out-of-discrimination free card.

But there are stores that only sell “plus sizes”, that’s discrimination too!

If considered technically and in a vacuum, I suppose it’s possible to make an argument.  But based on the actual reality of the current culture, I think it’s a derailing and basically indefensible position to take.  When you realize that a fat person can be in a huge mall  and not find a single piece of clothing in our size, it seems ridiculous to begrudge us the few stores that do sell clothes that fit us  Those stores aren’t discriminating because they don’t want thin people in their clothes, indeed most of their clothes mimic those already available in straight sizes, these stores fill a gap so that fat people don’t all have to learn to sew or make our lives into some sort of endless toga party.

I think that the fashion industry has long taken advantage of how easy it is to discriminate against fat people by simply not making clothes to fit us, and acting as if that’s simply an aesthetic choice and not a discriminatory one.  I would love to see fashion become about personal expression rather than defining who is cool and who is not (are we seriously adults still trying to be the “cool kids”, could we maybe stop doing that?), or becoming a way to tear each other down (Who has that kind of free time?  If I ever find myself with enough time to sit around and judge other people for their clothing choices,  I will immediately volunteer somewhere.)

Some really cool experiences for me happened when I got to attend the New York, LA, and Chicago premieres of American the Beautiful 2 – The Thin Commandments, a documentary in which I’m interviewed (it’s available on Netflix!).  One of the things that made the experiences really special was that I was dressed by Igigi by Yulia Raquel.  They were amazing and the dresses were beautiful and fit me perfectly.  (It was also a serious relief because I wasn’t sure where I was going to get a dress that I actually liked since my shopping prior to hearing from them uncovered a lot more “mother of the bride” than “red carpet.”)

America the Beautiful Premieres

Me at the NYC, Chicago, and LA premieres in my beautiful Igigi dresses with Kelrick and Kenny (my Best Friend and his husband), My friend Amy, and Jeanette DePatie aka The Fat Chick.

Yes it’s legal to refuse to make clothing for fat people, but the fact that something is legal does not make it right, or protect it from critique. I think that this has institutionalized and internalized fat stigma written all over this. Clothing designers and stores don’t want their clothing associated with us because of the stigma that is heaped on us, and many fat people don’t call them on that bullshit because we don’t believe we deserve the same shopping experience that thin people get, we’ve been encouraged to buy clothes that are too small as “motivation,” or to wait to buy good clothes until [insert body size manipulation goal here.]  That’s bullshit, and it’s bullshit that we have every right to fight.

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Published in: on June 5, 2014 at 6:38 pm  Comments (69)  

69 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s sad of me to say that my top reason for losing weight is to be able to buy clothes that fit me.

    • While it is sad, it isn’t atypical. I feel the same way quite often, losing weight seems easier than navigating the world as an overweight woman including, but not limited to, finding a decent outfit.

  2. The dresses are beautiful (and so are you!)

  3. I love Igigi, but their clothes are priced outside my spending zone. I’m lucky that I found four dresses today at Woman Within that I actually liked and which weren’t just drapey t-shirts or muumuus. I’m so sick of the lack of selection.

    • I buy clothes from Woman Within too, but what bugs me most about their catalog is all the models are thin. For a company that specializes in clothing for large women, they sure have an aversion to showing us.

      • I know it is. I just hate that. But I don’t see a lot of options at my size – I’m a solid 5X and there just are not a lot of places to shop.

      • That’s something that bothers me also. I used to buy some of my clothes from a german online shop, and their models are quite thin, too. Why? If I want to buy clothes it would be much more helpful if they were shown on someone with a similar figure like me, so I can imagine what it would look like if I wear it. I wrote them an Email asking them to show larger models – I hope they will soon!

  4. Those dresses ARE beautiful and you look fabulous.

    A few years ago I watched ‘Ruby’ for awhile, until I got tired of her whining. She made the very same complaint – not just about dresses, either. She went to a local textile program at a college and they designed clothing for her…but none of that was as pretty as what you have on here.

    • Ruby’s main shtick seemed to be whining. Turns out she was a nightmare behind the scenes too.

  5. and another thing….I’m short. I’m short waisted, as well. I have never found anything in those so called ‘fat lady stores’ that fits me. It bags in the crotch or…well, whatever. I would like access to an AFFORDABLE line of clothing for me, a short fat woman.

    • Thank you!!! I remember once trying to convince a friend that part of the reason I mainly wore older, raggedy jeans was that I have an awful time finding pants built for my shape — short legs, big waist, general lack of a butt. This was back when Lane Bryant had their “yellow triangle, blue square, red circle” (or whatever) system going on. No matter what I tried on, it was too big some where and too small somewhere else. I left the store convinced I must be some sort of purple dodecahedron or something.

      • I’m shaped the opposite – until recently, anyway – I have a HUGE butt so stuff that fit my hips didn’t fit my waist. It sucks, doesn’t it?

        • It sucks beyond the telling of it. And for some reason, I tend to take it even more personally when I feel like even the store for fat girls can’t figure out how to make pants that fit me.

        • Yes yes yes! I have a 13″ difference between my waist and fullest part of my hips (which are also not at the typical Hip/Waist areas). So I always have the excess of waist fabric that dips down to show my underwear due to my butt. To make matters worse – I’m 6′ tall and underwear makers seem to no longer want to make the cut I prefer to battle this exposure – only granny panties. UGH. I’m tired of wearing pants that have waist ties and I hate dresses/skirts. I haven’t been able to wear a pair of shorts in YEARS because I dare not cut the few pairs of pants I do have. Going to face another 100+ degree summer in pants.

      • **Sporfle purple dodecahedron**

        You just made my day.

        Best wishes from another purple dodecahedron 8)

      • I think I must be one too, or a chartreuse trapezoid or something. I’ve got a butt, and a waist, and most pants gap in the waist. I’m of supposedly average height 5’5, but I must have short legs as nearly all pants are WAY too long. But pants are the easy part. On top, I’ve got what is apparently an odd combination of extra big upper arms and shoulders and small (at least for a fat girl) boobs. And all the shirts seem to be made for small arms and shoulders and big boobs. I went to Torrid with my friend, we are the same number size she bought two gorgeous pinup type dresses right off the shell that fit her perfectly and looked amazing. Meanwhile all I wanted was a stupid v or scoop tshirt, and they had these lovely soft ones, but to get one not skin tight in the arms, i’d have had to have one hugely loose in the chest and too deeply cut for my minirack to support. Sigh. I walked out with only shorts that gap at the waist. At least they make belts.

    • Oh man, halfmoon_mollie, I feel your pain. I’m so short-waisted that if I didn’t have boobs my waistline would be in my armpits. Plus I’m small busted and carry most of my weight front-to-back in my belly. And I walk on little cubes with ridiculously high arches.

      I swear, if I ever have a stupidly massive Lotto win, the first thing I will do is hire my own personal clothing designer and cobbler. And then I will start marketing the clothes and shoes they make for me so that other short, oddly-slung women with cube feet can damn well find SOMETHING to wear.

      Er… could someone give me a hand down from this soapbox? I’m getting a nosebleed.

      • *raises an arm for Twistie* I’m the opposite. Wide feet and long waisted. I’m 5’3″, but when I sit down, you’d think I was 5’8″. I’m all torso, no legs, so it’s always fun for me walking around with my Amazon friends. Or, you know, not.

      • Oh, and if I do, I’ll start one for big shouldered armed women with miniracks. And make tshirts with scoop and vnecks and nipped in waists that actually do have proper sleeves in some styles, go from 0 to 6x at least, and come in far more colors than white black and red.

      • I’ve got tiny boobs too. So hard to find anything that doesn’t hang down halfway to my crotch.

        Finding pants is impossible as I usually wear a smaller size, but sometimes I have to go higher to get them over my knees. So in my closet there are varying sizes from 20-26, that fit differently.

        Like Helena, I have insanely wide feet, and also a size 9 (I think UK 40-41). I was “sized” a few yrs ago and the gizmo said 7.5, and I’m like, “yeah, anything less than 9 is like foot binding”.

      • I wonder if an enterprising fashion design school could be approached to design and pattern a plus-size range? Students would learn valuable skills, the school could sell the patterns and teach marketing. and if you ever win that money, I’ll drop what I’m doing to be on your design team.

    • I’d love to see a basics range – t-shirts (v and scoop neck), shirts, skirts, trousers, jeans, shorts, business wear too. All designed to fit all shapes and sizes. Nothing fancy just good, well made clothes at reasonable prices that could form the core of a wardrobe. No frills or nicknacks or dodahs added to be fashionable as that can date an item of clothing really badly.

      That gives everyone something reasonable to wear while they try to find things that express their personal style better.

      • Yes! No frills or doodads please. I would like some jeans that are just jeans. No sequins or artificial distressing or weird fadey patterns, and have boot cut as an option, regardless if super tight legs are in.

        • I have the same problem! My calves are huuuggge!!!! Even the bootcut/extra wide legs are too tight on one leg.

          • Lane bryant used to have a pant called Chelsea that was perfect…. truely wide legged and amazing for large thighs. I treasure my black pair which goes from work to theater for me. I won’t ever check a suitcase with them lest I lose them forever.

            • I DETEST when you finally find something that works, then they discontinue it. Pants especially, but bras too.

  6. Thanks for plugging The Thin Commandments. Every time I go on Netflix, all I seem to find are films about the “obesity epidemic” and scary fat.

  7. Sadly, learning to sew is not THE solution to this. I sew some of my clothes, and it is quite difficult to find nice patterns in larger sizes, and if you find some, not all of them have a good fit. So I often have to try to adjust the “normal” patterns.
    A few days ago I was looking for a simple cardigan – it was horrible. The so called “plus-size-sections” had nothing but a few racks filled with awful tent-like clothing – if there is plus-size clothing at all. Actually I just can’t understand this kind of “marketing”. Even if you look at “regular” clothing, the larger sizes are sold out first, and XS stays in the shelves. There really is a NEED for great plus size clothing. To exclude larger sizes seems just stupid. I wish I could do that, I could make a fortune🙂

    • I recently went to a fabric store, and was examining the patterns. Their 2X or 24 is the modern equiv. to a M. They were listed as 39-41 inch waists, but I have 47-50, so I’m wondering “how can I adjust it”? Not much going down. This woman I met while looking through the books, said there was a plus-size online pattern seller, but they only go to 42 inches.

      If anyone knows of patterns that go very high, could you please advise?

      • I mostly use burdastyle patterns, but they also only go up to about a US 26 (I have to convert the EU-sizes, which is not always easy), that would be a 41″ waist. At least I think their multiple-size patterns are quite easy to enlarge, I already did with regular sized patterns and it worked ok for me. They have some really beautiful patterns, though I found their jeans not to be very well fitting, but the others do quite well.

      • Fashion Patterns By Coni:
        http://www.fashionpatterns.com/
        Her web site has her complete line, and she has a few patterns in stores sold through Butterick, too. They go up to 6X – retail size 42/44.

        • I love it! Thank you!

  8. “Yes it’s legal to refuse to make clothing for fat people, but the fact that something is legal does not make it right, or protect it from critique.”

    I love this… I was trying to explain the difference to someone online recently. This person kept insisting that because I thought a company’s actions were wrong, I must think it should also be illegal. I tried to explain that an action can be unethical and unconscionable without needing to run crying to the government about it.

  9. I have written on social bullying and the tactics employed to achieve it………. This is one of the worst example of that so called social fashions norm……

  10. Great post! It’s funny that we’re both thinking about clothes today. (By the way, Yuliya/Igigi dressed me for my TEDx talk, and it was fabulous. I still love wearing that dress!)

  11. Oh oh Ragen…If you haven’t done it yet visit Kiyonna in Anaheim. I was in Huntington beach for a wedding two years ago and stopped by to experience my one and only personal shopping experience. It was phenomenal and I felt like a princess! I had a personal shopper assistant who was amazing. She was straight sized but she was so kind and awesome. It was the most awesome exp pretence from beginning to end and I adore the wrap dresses I bought there. I just wrote one to a wedding a few weeks ago and felt awesome. If you haven’t yet, you should go check them out!

  12. Just dealt with this today, actually…had a chance to pop into Ross to look for a dress for tonight to sing “Summertime”. Slim selection, indeed, and I’m a 16. They had a lot of really nice things 2-16 but once you got to 2x, it was all muumuus. Really??

    • Interesting. I’m lucky enough to live within 25 miles of three Ross locations and have never had a problem finding a nice, non-muumuu dress that fit. I’m 5’5 and couldn’t tell you what I weigh (threw out the scale a decade ago), but I wear anything from an XL to a 4X depending on fabric, cut and fit.

      Local differences, perhaps? Or perhaps just better buyers.

      That said, their selection of skirts, trousers and lingerie is completely and utterly awful at every single one. Nothing above a size 12. I only go for the dresses.

      • Same here: sizes 20-26, and XL to 4X. I was buying shirts last year and there was a fantastic white one with some funky designs at the top. It was extremely flimsy fabric and the first time I wore it I was doing dishes and leaned against the counter. The button on my pants wore a hole through, and my mom has said the shirt is ugly as sin now. I went back looking for more but they were sold out.

        And the funny thing, it was a 16-18 shirt, but when I was trying it on, I went looking for a smaller size since it was more like a boat cover, and there was nothing more. Then I realized that it was a plus-size only clothing label, so there was never going to be anything smaller. I was surprised that I could’ve worn a 14!

        So now I have to tuck it in to protect it. Incidentally, another shirt has done the same thing with the hole thingy. And it’s thicker fabric.

  13. Not to mention thin people can shop in the fat stores. The stuff may not fit, but they can have it altered. Fat people can’t have thin clothes altered because there’s not enough fabric.

    So the argument that fat stores are discriminatory is stupid.

  14. What bugs me about Lane Bryant is that all of their clothes are fitted on the mannequins, but tents on the hanger.

  15. What I wish companies would do is take the clothes they already make, and size them up. Sure, it’s not as simple as adding inches here and there. But when some companies do try making plus size clothes, they either make a whole different line designed to be “flattering”, or they alter their original clothing to make it more “flattering” for fat people.

    “Flattering” meaning higher necklines, longer voluminous sleeves, longer voluminous skirts, sequins, big colorful prints, and random words to indicate that while the woman may be fat, at least she’s still “sassy”. Or if the clothing is meant to be work appropriate, it’s black, black, black.

    I want to wear the same clothes anyone wears, except fitting my body. Fat people come in many different styles! Some of us want to show some cleavage! Some of us want to show legs. Some of us want to show nothing. Just like thin people! Amazing!

    Not to be all conspiracy theory-ish, but sometimes I feel like companies do this:

    1. Announce plus size line
    2. Buy or design ugly plus size clothing to put in a dark corner of the store or on their website
    3. Nobody buys it
    4. Throw up their hands and say there’s no profit in dressing fat people

  16. Totally get this. I did not exist at Target last time I shopped for clothes there. They had three, count them, 3, piddly little racks with clothes I wouldn’t ask my dog to wear. Men’s and slender women had half the store.

    This is a real business niche for someone who sews or can figure out how to make a business out of serving all sizes. Here’s what I want: 1. Natural fibers that breathe (I have personal HVAC issues). 2. Cut well enough to fit me without being sausaged. 3. Cuts of clothing and lengths that I am comfortable in, not sleeves too short, long enough from underarm to below hips, just the right length for a skirt (every woman has at least two “perfect” points where their legs look hot! a short skirt point and a longer skirt point)4. Cleavage only when I want. 5. My underwear doesn’t show unless I want it to. 6. Pretty colors and patterns that don’t look like grandma’s living room curtains. I don’t think I’m asking too much.
    Thanks again for providing this forum!

    • Oh Target..yes, BOO. I’m near 3 really big targets, with this huge selection of misses sizes, and the plus section is maybe 3 racks of baggy knits. Maybe. And if you look around in any of those Targets a very high percentage of their female shoppers are plus sized.

      And sleeves please. Some women feel comfortable wearing sleeveless or little cap sleeves, but the way those things cut makes me look all linebacker. I just a sleeve like a man’s tshirt on a shirt cut for a woman.

      • The Target near my house has a section marked “plus” sizes. There is enough floor space there to have a moderate section (8-10 racks); however, most of the time, there are only 1-3 racks of clothes there because they shove the clearance racks (full of tiny sizes) into the plus-sized section. It’s right under the sign, so if you follow the sign, you end up staring at several racks of tiny, out of season clothing. Gawd forbid that the clearance racks eat up any of the miles of floor space allotted to the tiny sizes.

    • “Personal HVAC issues.” OMG. I am so stealing this!!

  17. Fortunately, I can go to Wal-Mart or JC Penney and find something in the “Womens” department. Target? Forget it! Nothing at all! What is especially irritating, I walk through the store, and there are lots and lots of great clothes for “normal” sizes! BTW: I can’t afford Lane Bryant and other large size stores.

    • At one time I literally found two skirts in Target that were exactly the same size (and style, essentially the exact same skirt in every way including the dimensions) but whereas the XL in the regular size dept cost one price the exact same size hung in the plus section where they were charging more. I thought at first it must have a bit of extra material but examined it closely and they were totally identical in every way and size.

  18. This is an important topic and I hope she does start her own clothing line b/c I like to think my dollars are going to the right people instead of someone who puts us down on the one hand yet takes our money on the other.
    There are issues even within plus sizes.
    Have you noticed that lately they are lowering what is considered “plus”?
    There is no uniformity. I shop on Zulily including sometimes clothing, but it is wise to always check the size charts for each individual item in their “plus sizing” even within the same vendors. The definition for a 3 X for example can range as much as literally ten “sizes”, and they often don’t include things we need to know such as pants lengths (since I am also long legged).
    The other issue I have is that within plus sizing there is a presumption of large size boobs whereas mine were in good proportion when I was thin, but never did grow huge like the clothing seems to presume happens for all plus people. This results in embarrassingly low necklines issues that make many clothes unusable for someone with my shape. I even saw an endocrinologist to be sure there is no abnormality, since judging by most clothing I am apparently not supposed to exist! (And no I am not a cross dresser and have read in comments from other women that some have at least some of this same issue since without large boobs there is nothing to prevent the neckline from hanging extremely low in front) Just this week I put on a shirt only to later notice it has slipped down such that since I was out of town I literally put it on backwards since I would rather look careless than like an intentional floosey.
    It is really annoying also to have to choose between the plusness that I currently need and the length or the neckline that I need. For some reason many companies seem to assume that one is either large or tall but not both, at the same time. But perhaps that is because many of them have apparently shortened pants from 31″ to 30″ or less. It is as if they are shrinking the clothes so they can charge more for certain sizing labeled plus or average or whatever even in sizing that used to be considered in the normal range (example I saw a 16 listed as plus size whereas an 18 used to be a regular off the rack size, and often still is)

    I applaud anyone who tackles this issue. I am tired of being offered clothing that is either very plain, has cartoon characters on it, is full of bling studs or big frills, or much too low cut for me. There are people these items look good on, but I am not one and get tired of being pegged as wanting only these options.

    I often see regular size clothing that could look really nice on larger size people yet is not offered. Realizing that is their loss, unfortunately it is also mine as is the disproportionate amount of time I now use trying to figure out the sizing and styles offered.

    It is not fair to act as if I don’t care how I dress, when in fact I do but have so few choices. Yes I have found a lot of companies but some of the ones with creative choices also have poor quality control so it is still a risk to order. (example inconsistent sizing within their sizing or sewing that is questionable such as a pocket seam that rips the first time I gently put my hand in it. They have customers and they know it so some (not all) companies don’t care about things like consistent quality. And if I need something fast, like a certain item I cannot now just go and find it. I find it has made me tend to hoard more of certain items like yoga pants to be sure I have something to wear to class.

    I would like for there to be more companies owned by large women, even though they tend to raise the prices as well…

    • I feel for you in the tall/short dept. Most clothes in the shop I go to are uni-length, and usually need a foot chopped off for me to not have to roll it up so much. I’m very short and these are designed for fat and very tall. Even with the petite clothes, I have to roll up.

  19. Twistie, I have had the same thought-when I win the lottery, I will find a designer who will create wonderful clothes for my fat, short, lumpy self and then, in an act of subversion, sponsor selling the glorious creations, in shapes to fit a variety of fat women, in beautiful stores with salespeople who treat customers like royalty, in the most prominent locations in malls everywhere.
    Ah well, a girl can dream…..

  20. Something can be constitutionally protected, and still be a bad idea.

  21. Designers need to realize that we fat people have money that is the same colors as thin people have. There is, I understand, more fabric to be used, so do what many plus size designers eo which is to just add on about $20.00 to $35.00.

    • Yes, you certainly need more fabric, but clothes manufacturers do not pay the prizes on fabric as you and me if we buy in a fabric store. So in fact the fabric itself should not be the problem and no reason to raise the prize as much…

      • You’re right! And also, who decides where the cutoff is? An XL is surely more fabric than an XS, but they are the same price. But a 1X and an XL are often around the same size, but the 1X is more expensive because it’s “plus”.

        You would think that the extra cost of selling a 4X item of clothing would be offset by the extra profit they make from selling a XS at the same price.

        Why must we expect to pay more and be less comfortable than thin people just because of our bodies? A fat person and a thin person are both person-sized, and we both have to wear clothing (or sit at a restaurant table, or ride the bus, or take a plane). Why is some companies ability to grow their profit every quarter a more compelling argument than our ability to wear clothes that are just as affordable and well made as anyone else’s?

  22. Igigi has gorgeous stuff, and Kiyonna too. The only trouble in their stuff I have trouble finding things that aren’t huge in the boob on me. At least I could conceivably have them altered though.

  23. I’ve started doing nearly all my shopping at Goodwill and other thrift stores, plus the odd consignment store. The Goodwills here have separate Plus sections, so I don’t get discouraged looking through everything in the store. My Thrift Fu is even better than that of my sisters, two youngest nieces, and mother COMBINED, and I’ll frequently find more items that fit and that I love (often from real designers) than the lot of them will. And lemme tell ya, I’m picky. Limited colors, limited styles, only natural fabrics with perhaps a little Lycra or nylon for strength.

    Man, I can’t wait until I finish paying my bills this month (cats, vet, UGH) so I can go find some summerweight shirts.

    (Mind, I used to work with a bunch of people with strong ties to the fashion industry. After seeing the way clothing is designed, never mind constructed, dude, I’d RATHER take some advanced pattern drafting courses so I can make my own!)

  24. Stores that cater to plus sized people are not discriminating against thin people, they are a reaction to an already discriminatory system. Generally, plus sized clothing can be bought in stores that also carry small sizes, or they are part of a conglomeration of stores that owns both plus and regular size clothing.

    I used to shop at Fashion Bug Plus, and there was also just a Fashion Bug with clothing for smaller people. At one point the Limited owned my Lane Bryant, and now I often can find a pair of jeans at Kohl’s, but there is nowhere near the selection in the plus-sized department as there is in the others. At the very least, if there is an unusual garment in a plus-sized store that is too big for a consumer, s/he can still buy it and have it altered by a tailor to be smaller.

    I don’t think that a store that carries just petites or very small sizes is discriminating, I think they are a niche market for harder to fit people. I understand that stores may want to carry only a range of sizes, and the larger range of sizes may end up segregated in their own store. But when you have people saying to clothing companies, “Hey, we would like to see this in larger sizes” or “you’re a dress designer, I want to hire you to design an Oscar dress for me” and the response is, “No, we don’t like your body size and we don’t want to see you wearing our designs,” that is a completely different thing.

  25. I recently subscribed to GwynnieBee.com. It’s kind of a “Netflix” for clothes and says they carry size 10-32. They have lovely things that I could not otherwise afford to try. Unfortunately, they really only go up to 32 in some of their tops & dresses. Skirts stop at 28 & I believe jackets & jeans stop at 26. I suggested they offer a half off membership for size 28+ since we can’t access the whole selection but that didn’t get me very far. Yet.

  26. I’d advise none of ye to move to Ireland. Plus size fashion is pretty non-existent here. Some of the major shops – Dunnes, Tesco, Debenhams, go up to a size 20, occasionally a size 22, but for anything more than that, it’s Evans. Now, Tesco, Debenhams and Evans are UK imports as well. It’s really difficult to find clothes I’d like to wear that also fit me – I’m a 22 so borderline, but I wear from 18-24 really. I’ve also resorted to Ebay and getting the sewing machine out, but my skills are not up to really fancy stuff. Pain in the neck all round. And I find it appalling that Ms. McCarthy was refused like that – if I had the money to afford designer stuff, I’d be making a real effort to find out who to boycott right now🙂

  27. One excuse I heard given for this was that “but designing clothes for people who aren’t thin is HAAAAARD! It’s far too much to expect us to go to all the EXTRA effort needed to design clothes for such impossible and difficult bodies! It would take SO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY!” To which I have the following responses:

    1. If making clothes for people is your fucking job, then you should be able to do your job. If you never took the time to learn to make clothes for anyone who wasn’t a straight-size model then you have failed to learn to do your job properly. When I did bra measurements as part of a job do you think anyone would’ve accepted me claiming that measuring for larger breasts is more difficult (which it actually can be)? Nope. It’s my job to do that, therefore it’s my job to learn.

    2. Making clothes to measure for ANY shape isn’t easy. You need to understand the drape of fabric, you need to account for the fact that no one is a simple shape and everyone needs patterns modified at the bust or waist or hips or hem or crossback or SOMEWHERE. I therefore posit that this apparent impossibility of designing clothes to fit plus size people is more psychological than anything else.

    3. I would ALMOST be willing to accept this as an excuse IF we were talking about small-business hobby tailors selling on Ebay and Etsy. Except I own a coat which was made to measure for me by a tailor in China and even though my measurements were so unusual that they emailed me to double-check I’d measured correctly, even though I was significantly larger and curvier than their normal customer base, and even though we renegotiated a higher price to account for the extra fabric used, the coat I got fits me absolutely perfectly in every single area of my body without the tailor ever even seeing me in person. People who know their craft know how to do this.

    4. But also, this was not small-business self-taught tailors on Ebay and Etsy. While the specific designers weren’t mentioned I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume we’re talking about, but high-end fashion designers of the sort usually asked to design clothes for events like these. These are the people that sell their clothes for THOUSANDS of pounds. These are the people who spend an entire year and a team of dozens of people working on bizarre and highly sculpted pieces of clothing that elevate fashion to the level of an art form. These are the people who rest their reputations on being able to push the envelope when it comes to fashion, to create the sublime. These are the people who gleefully took the opportunity to set up a 20-person team JUST to glue on 230,000 crystals to a dress for Rihanna: http://vimeo.com/97375728

    These are people who already willingly go to incredible extremes to make clothes that are AMAZING.

    5. Since clothes already exist that fit fat people, and those clothes don’t cost thousands of pounds, I would posit that the research and work needed to figure out how to dress fat people is neither as difficult nor as challenging as some people seem to believe. If Simply Be can give me a pair of jeans that fits my butt, stomach and thighs perfectly, I’m pretty sure someone like Alexander McQueen can figure out how to sew a fucking dress for someone who has body fat.

    • Actually some designers are very clear about that. Karl Lagerfeld hates fat people and repeatedly stated that. And Wolfgang Joop said something like “I won’t waste my talent on fatties!” I think, making haute couture plus-sizes would be somewhat of a revolution, sadly. Fashion designers seem to think that making plus-sizes damages their “reputation” – but that bashing fatties does not.

      • *starts making a list of designers who need some .dll files, a few random letters in the registry, a couple of BIOS settings, and a layer or two of thermal paste removed from their lives*

    • Where did you get that coat? I froze my size 24 rear end of because not a single store had a coat in my size. I had an emotional breakdown at a Macys……

  28. Oh, sometimes I don’t even know where to begin.
    The Powers That Be have screwed up sizes something horrible. When you look at patterns, IGNORE the pattern size and go by your measurements always. I still have a couple of patterns from my high school days in the 1970s, and the size 16 of the 70s is the size 10 of today, in pattern sizes. That’s how the size 0 and 00 came to be. Ridiculous. So forget the number and just know your measurements when sewing. it helps a lot.
    Where to find patterns? Connie Crawford is our ANGEL. fashionpatterns.com – Connie noticed years ago that a size 26 is not just a size 8 with inches added – we have a whole different shape. Her patterns are designed for a 3X and go up and down from there. Some of her patterns are carried by the Butterick pattern company, just look for Connie Crawford patterns, BUT, be warned – I’ve noticed that her Butterick patterns run a little small. By my measurements, I should wear her size 3X, but it’s the 4X that fits me the best. Her patterns are classics that will travel through the years, and be used and loved over and over. I think I have at least 6 of her baseball shirts in my closet now – it’s my favorite pattern.
    For what it’s worth, if you have an odd size to fit, Connie will be happy to work with you to find a pattern that will fit you. At least, she was doing that years ago when I had a friend who was a very odd size.
    I wish I had the time to sew for all of you! I hear the cries of frustration, and I look at my closet, where everything is made well and fits well and lasts for years. (I’m a size 32-34 now, and TALL, with size 11EEEE shoes).

  29. The thing I hate most about “plus” size clothes is that they assume all ‘plus’ women are also 6 foot tall.

  30. Several years ago when Camryn Manheim had to go to an awards show, designers were offering to make her a dress. (Already better than the experience Melissa McCarthy had) and she told all the desingers that if they didn’t already have a plus size line she wouldn’t wear a custom dress from them on the red carpet. She said something along the lines of, If I coudn’t buy a dress of yours last month, you will not get publicity from me at the Emmys.

  31. So I’m not the only one that’s in tears every time I dare to hope to shop for women’s clothing at Target? I spent over an hour last week trying to find workout shorts that wouldn’t ride up to my nethers and had pockets and a thin T-shirt or tank top. NONE of the women’s athletic clothing fit that criteria, nor did it go above a XXL. (I tried on a pair of jogging pants just to see if I could fit in them – skin tight, no pockets, and even if wasn’t blazing hot outside, I never would have bought them.) Like always, I had to go to the men’s section and buy shorts there. For a shirt, I bought a thin pajama T-shirt because it fit better than the tiny selection of Plus-sized ones. It had cap sleeves, which I hate, but I was desperate. I shouldn’t have to wear long pants and heavy shirts in 90 degree temps on my walks/jogs!

    I do sew and make some of my own clothes for all the reasons everyone has listed. However, like with the workout clothes I needed, I don’t always have the time or money to make the 2 hour round trip to the nearest fabric store in search of fabric and patterns (even online you can’t always find what you want.) I should be able to go to a store and get basic garments that are long enough in the sleeve (plus-sized clothing never ever fits me correctly in the shoulders and the sleeve length is always too short) or fits my big butt and hips or comes without sparkles or a hideous print, without having to shop in the men’s section. I want basics like jeans (Target had a huge sale recently on jeans yet not a single pair came in a size over an 18,) athletic shorts that won’t ride up and come with pockets, t-shirts that are in feminine cuts (I’m a tomboy, but I like non-Men’s clothing styles too,) skirts that flatter my figure and come with pockets (one of the main reasons I make my own clothing,) etc.

  32. Unfortunately, I just checked Netflix, and apparently, “Thin Commandments” is no longer on their site😦 Just discovered your blog and love it!!


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